ISTE 3: Research and Information Fluency

ISTE Standard 3: Research and Information Fluency

Trigger Question: How can students use technology to conduct credible research, while recording sources in an accurate and efficient manner?

It was great to look at some of the suggested sources for this module. At me internship placement, students recently completed their first research assignment and it was immediately evident that there needs to explicit instruction in regards to research methods. It is for this reason, that I decided to explore research methods and accurate citation resources, which align with ISTE Standard 3: Research and Information Fluency.

Before this module, I had not been exposed to any of the suggested resources. Upon further investigation, I feel that WebQuests could be a useful resource. I will be teaching the “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” later this semester. The narrator of the story is on the Autism Spectrum. It is important that students gain a deeper understanding of Autism in order to understand the character. I found a WebQuest that would have students create Autism Awareness Brochures/Posters, which will require them to find a Autism definition, characteristics, casual factors, instructional implications, assistive technologies, and accommodations and modifications. Also, the WebQuest provides students with several credible websites that they can utilize. I could absolutely see myself using http://questgarden.com/183/57/2/150913105639/task.htm (Links to an external site.) during this upcoming unit. Bates states (2015), “Teaching presence  is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes”. This activity presents students with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of Autism and allows them to connect the knowledge with real-life implications.

Autism Aware

WebQuests

In terms of citing sources in an accurate and efficient manner, it seems that The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University and EasyBib combine to provide students with the necessary resources. In the past, I had only referenced students to the OWL website for MLA information. Based on my investigation, I found helpful resources to assist students in finding credible sources https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/02/ (Links to an external site.). Also, I was interested in seeing if there was a more effective website than EasyBib to help students with MLA formatting. It seems that EasyBib is the most comprehensive reference resource http://www.easybib.com/ (Links to an external site.). I will encourage students to use these two websites together to gain a better understanding of MLA guidelines and streamline their research process.

References:

Bates, A. W. (n.d.). Methods of teaching: Campus-focused. In Teaching in a digital age (3). Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/part/
chapter-4-methods-of-teaching/

 

 

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Standard 6: Assessment

Assessment is an integral aspect of teaching and can take a variety of different forms. It is essential that teachers integrate both formative and summative assessments in order to evaluate if students are reaching the desired learning targets. Not only are assessments used to gauge if individuals students are reaching the learning target, but assessments allow teachers to collect data on students and use that data to guide future instruction for both individuals and groups. Not only does data provide important information for the instructor, but it also allows for educators to provide feedback to students and highlight areas of improvement associated with the learning targets.

I exemplified implementing formative assessment during a recent unit on “The Kite Runner” at my internship placement. The learning target, which was communicated to students at the beginning of class, stated that “Student will be able to use knowledge of the text to further analyze character development through writing a letter from the narrator’s point of view.” This learning target aligns with the Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3: “Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.” Students were assigned to write a letter from the point of view of the protagonist and assessed on three determining factors: letter format, reference to at least one specific event, and tone of the letter. The nature of the assessment did not immediately allow for me to distinguish what students met the desired level of proficiency. Proficiency was checked after I had an opportunity to read letters and provide written feedback on each individual letter.

For some the students who did not meet the standard, it was evident that they had not completed the required reading. Without reading the text, meeting the standard is unrealistic. This assessment provided insight into students who were falling behind in the reading and were approached individually about their reading progress. Other students who did not meet the standard did not make at least one reference to a specific event in the text. I provided additional support for these students by writing brief comments on their letters with an example and challenging them to brainstorm an additional event. On the other hand, there were students who were proficient and reached the learning target. In hindsight, I should have challenged those students to predict the response of the character receiving the letter and include that in their letter.

Though I was not able to provide I provide immediate feedback to all students based on the written format of the assessment, fellow students and I provided feedback to those who decided to share their letter with the class. Feedback was provided to each student based on their level of proficiency in regards to the learning target. For example, those students who did not write in letter format were reminded of the first-person point of view. Students who did not include at least one reference to an event were provided an example and challenged to brainstorm an additional event. For student who did not write their letter with an accurate tone, I cited two specific areas where their tone does not fit the tone of the text. Students who met the learning target were given positive reinforcement for their work and challenged to predict the response of the letter’s recipient based off their comprehensive knowledge of the text.

The data I collected revealed that the vast majority of students reached the learning target. Though most students met the learning targets, students who did not received detailed individual feedback on their letters. It was established that most students possess foundational character development skills and analysis of student work helped guide my future instruction. The next instructional step after this lesson was to further the understanding of character development and recent events in the text through small group and class discussions. Students were prompted by guided questions to reach a deeper level of understanding in regards to character development. Furthermore, students listened to opinions of other students, which provided them alternative view points and additional pieces of textual evidence.

The reasoning behind this informal assessment was to practice higher-level thinking in regards to character development. Students will have to use these skills to complete their summative assessment at the end of this unit. Students will be asked to write a comparative essay between The Kite Runner and Purple Hibiscus. Students will be required to analyze character development in each of these novels and write an essay comparing and contrasting major characters and themes. This higher-level thinking will be imperative in order for students to reach their learning targets for the summative assessment.

I would consider using a similar informal assessment in the future, but I would provide more detailed expectations. In the future, I would present several models following the informal assessment. I would then have students write on the back of their letter – One strength, one weakness, and one goal for a future letter. For this assessment, I did not provide students an opportunity to use metacognition skills and set goals for related tasks in the future, which I would alter in the future. I continue to focus on returning targeted student feedback in a timely manner in order to effectively use data to progress students towards learning targets and create cohesion from class-to-class.

 

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ISTE 2: Collaboration and Communication

ISTE Standard 2: Communication and collaboration

It has become apparent through my internship placement how value face-to-face class time is to educators. There are high expectations to teach content, prepare students for the next level and reach desired learning targets. With these certain expectations for progression, time allocated for communication and collaboration can be minimal. That being said, it is important that students develop these vital skills. Fortunately, technology presents opportunities for students to continue conversations outside of the classroom and practice useful skills that align with education and the relevance of technology in today’s society.

My mentor teacher and I currently utilize and integrate the online platform Schoology. We use Schoology for students to interact with one another and assists in the development of ISTE Standard 2. According to “Blogging in the 21st Century,” Lampinen (2013) states, “Benefits extend beyond the classroom. Introverted students tend to share more online than they do in person; blogging is an invaluable way for me to get to know them better as people and students.” This pedagogical approach allows students who may be hesitant to share in class to express themselves through writing. Though our format varies from the free response model, students develop writing, collaborative and communication skills. Students answer guided questions about the current text we are studying and respond to each other to create open dialogue channels. This is comparable to the course format students may experience in higher education, similar to this class. This also allows us to evaluate students’ analytical skills in smaller sample sizes rather than depending on formal essays. Schoology has a layout similar to Facebook, which I believe students find accessible and easy to navigate. Students partake in collaboration, which before these platforms became available, was hard to enhance outside the classroom.

Although Schoology is useful for collaboration, students typically do not check Schoology unless they are working on blog posts. It is for this reason that I wanted to find additional online resources that would increase teacher-student communication outside the classroom through a professional and convenient digital platform. I recently heard students mention, and praise, other teachers at my internship placement who use Remind. I explored the Remind web site and learned about some of the useful tools it has to offer. First off, the program allows teachers to send messages to students and parents without exchanging personal information. This is always my number one concern with communication outside of the classroom, and Remind is designed for teachers to maintain the highest level of professionalism. I considered making Remind optional for students who would appreciate reminders regarding assignments.

In addition, I explored Celly, which is a technology similar to Remind, but offers additional features. Celly maintains the same level of privacy and layout, but seems to have additional tools that Remind lacks. For example, teachers can send polls to get instant feedback. One aspect of Celly that I found particularly interesting was the capability to have “open chat with parents or fellow educators.” For students who are struggling across several classes, teachers and parents could collaborate periodically regarding progress and concerns. This “open chat” seems more conversational than email, which I believe can feel impersonal to some parents.

Finally, I looked at all these methods through the lens of constructivism, which I believe is essential in an English classroom. In “The Nature of Knowledge and the Implications of Teaching” by Bates (2015), he states, “Social constructivists believe that this process works best through discussion and social interaction, allowing us to test and challenge our own understandings with those of others.” This reaffirms our utilization of Schoology for facilitating dialogue outside of class. In contrast, I presented the idea of incorporating Remind or Celly to our sixth-period class. Students instinctively jumped at the idea of having text messages sent to them daily with reminders for assignments. As we discussed the different options, I started to shift my stance on the incorporation of such technologies. I view my responsibility as an educator to challenge students and prepare them for the next academic level. Sending daily reminders for assignments is not equipping students with needed organizational skills. Students must be responsible for their own learning and by removing that accountability, in my eyes, does them an injustice as developing young adults. On the other hand, the exploration of these reminder systems was important; I have decided to leave the responsibility of education in the hands of students. This module has confirmed my confidence in the use of Schoology and prompts my commitment to continually look for opportunities to increase its role in our class.

Below is the layout for Schoology:

SchoologyReferences:

Bates, A. W. (n.d.). The nature of knowledge and the implications for teaching. In Teaching in a digital age (2). Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage
/part/chapter-2-the-nature-of-knowledge-and-the-implications-for-teaching/

Lampinen, M. (2013). Blogging in the 21st-century classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/blogging-in-21st-century-classroom-
michelle-lampinen

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ISTE Standard 1

The question that I explored: Are there tech programs that are currently being integrated into high school English classrooms to improve the writing skills (conventions, grammar, punctuation, etc.) of students?

Though the connection between my Triggering Event Question and ISTE Standard 1 may seem obscure, I believe there is a certain level of creativity and innovation required to improving foundational writing skills. One of the greatest challenges of teaching is to reach each individual, despite the wide range of skill levels. As Bates states, “The wide diversity of the student body is a major challenge for institutions. This requires more focus on teaching methods that provide support for learners, more individualization of learning, and more flexible delivery” (Bates, n.d.). At my internship placement, I have found that many students lack the foundational writing skills to complete some of the higher-level expression required in class. Some of these students are ELL students and others just never grasped some of the foundational understandings of grammar, punctuation, and conventions. We have conducted mini-lessons covering these topics, but these issues continue to be present through writing samples. Some students have approached me and asked if there are additional resources that can be accessed for practice. Other students are understandably less self-motivated and do not seek the extra help, but need it. I asked this Trigger Event Question because class time is limited and it is important for students to gain a further understanding of writing basics in order to express their creativity in their writing.

In order to answer this question, I explored various websites that I could refer students to for additional practice. I found two websites that I felt could work together to create a more comprehensive understanding. Through my investigation, I found one program and one website that I believe students could utilize. The first is dailywritingtips.com. This website breaks down subjects and categories to an extent that students could focus their efforts on specific areas they lack confidence. For example, comma splices, colons, semicolons, passive voice, and much more. These pages provide thorough explanations and examples that students could find beneficial. Also, the website provides quizzes for students to practice these skills. Unfortunately, the quizzes are limited and only cover broad topics, such as vocabulary, grammar, commas, and vocabulary. This website will not exclusively solve many of these issues, but it is a solid foundational resource.

Second, I found grammarly.com. I downloaded the free program and explored its capabilities. The program allows students to compose or copy and paste their writing. Grammarly has an advanced editing algorithm that finds errors beyond Microsoft Word. I demoed the program and it identified many of the common errors I notice in students’ writing. For example, Grammarly identifies missing a comma after an introductory phrase and double negatives. Not only does Grammarly highlight these issues, but it provides an explanation for students to gain an understanding of the reasoning behind the edit. I do not believe that Grammarly is the solution to combat these issues, but it brings these common problems to the attention of students and makes them examine their writing with more purpose and depth. There will never be a substitute for face-to-face instruction and I do not believe these resources are exclusively the solution. On the other hand, these two resources could complement one another as a starting point for students to build a better understanding and sharpen essential skills.

In addition, fellow students provided additional links including quickandirtytips.com and Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL). I am familiar with both of these websites and it is beneficial to have as many tools as possible. One link I was not aware of before this investigation was noredink.com. After looking through the website, I think it a great source as well. It is free for students and designed for teachers. I like these links because they do not only provide explanations, but have quizzes, which students can take to sharpen their skills.

I feel that I have successfully answered my Triggering Event Question. I have identified a variety of available resources that I would feel confident referring students to. This exploration has been effective in equipping me with these different tools. It supports the emphasis and transition towards more technological inclusion in education.

 

Dailywriting

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/category/grammar/

References:

Bates, A. W. (n.d.). Fundamental change in education. In Teaching in a digital age (1). Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/part/chapter-1-fundamental-change-in-education/

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Journal Entry #7

I agree with Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, especially in connection with teaching. I have always felt that IQ tests or simple objective tests do not do justice to individuals who possess skills outside that format. Understanding these different “distinct intelligences” as a teacher allows you to see the value and uniqueness of each student. Maybe a student is not proficient in English, but the individual excels in logic and mathematics. With this knowledge, it is the job of the educator to recognize those strengths and incorporate different instructional practices.

Also, I appreciate how Gardner includes kinetics, musical, and interpersonal skills. I have always felt that education is the furthering of a variety of skills beyond content knowledge. Most of all, students are given the opportunity to explore different paths and find passions that areas of interest. Also, students learn other essential life skills, such as teamwork and other interpersonal skills that are necessary for the “real world.”

Lastly, I have always been a proponent of athletics and the applicable skills gained through sport. Furthering gross and fine motor skills can be associated with setting goals and attempting multiple strategies in order to identify the most suitable option.The benefit I have always identified in sports and physical activity is the perseverance past a point of comfort.

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Journal Entry #7 – Appld Inq Assess Methods

I looked at the OSPI web site to further my understanding of the current state of statewide testing in Washington State. It is apparent based on the data there is a large discrepancy between students who meet standards in the K-8 setting compared to students in 11th grade. Viewing and analyzing these scores from 2014-15 provided insight into the current state of standardized testing in Washington State. I looked specifically at statewide testing in high school English/language arts as it is most pertinent to my intended grade level and subject.

It was both surprising and disappointing to see that just 26.3% of 11th graders statewide meet state standards in ELA. The data also revealed that a much higher percentage of students meet standards in K-8 than in 11th grade. This drop is dramatic and it makes me wonder what causes the great discrepancy. Though there could an assortment of different contributing factors, I believe this shows a complete disconnect between statewide testing and current curriculum that is being taught throughout high schools. I have the inherent belief that the majority of teachers do a wonderful job teaching, but maybe the content that educators are focusing on does not align with the necessary skills in the statewide test.In addition, Washington State recently switched to the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the unfamiliarity of this assessment among students, parents, teachers, counselors and administrators may also be causing issues.

I took a more detailed look at the Seattle Public School District’s scores for two reasons: my current internship placement within the district and it being the largest district in the state. I was once again shocked by the significant drop off of passing rates from K-8 to 11th grade. In 8th grade 61.1% of students meet standards, but that number drops to just 9.6% for the 11th-grade assessment. Honestly, this number is staggering. It raises many questions for myself in terms of the state of education in  the Seattle School District, but also at the state-level as well.

Lastly, I took a more in-depth look at statewide testing in the Bainbridge Island School District – my past school district. I chose Bainbridge because I know it has a reputation for being a strong district with a high-socioeconomic makeup and I wanted to know how it compared to the state average. For some reason, this data was suppressed. I then selected Mercer Island, which has a similar composition. The plummet of students meeting standards from 8th grade (78.6%) to 11th grade (15.9%) was still present. I would like to further investigate this issue as it seems this a significant issue across Washington State and requires attention.

 

 

 

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Journal Entry #6 – Appld Inq Assess Methods

The subject of statewide testing being connected to teacher evaluations has been an issue that I have learned a great deal about over the past couple months. My internship placement is at a Seattle Public School and I was around many educators during the strike. Though most of the media coverage of the recent Seattle Education Association strike was on the proposed salary increase, teachers also felt strongly about eliminating the connection between statewide testing and teacher evaluations. It became apparent how strong teachers felt about eliminating this correlation within the district. When the negotiations ended, teachers were pleased with the outcome in regards to eradicating the policies connecting statewide testing with teacher evaluations. I share this same sentiment.

The main reason I do not believe that statewide testing should be connected to teacher evaluations is because it not an accurate evaluation of a teacher’s effectiveness. There are too many factors outside of a teacher’s control that could affect a student’s performance on a statewide test. For example, if a student were to show up for testing after not sleeping the night before or not having eaten for long periods of time, their performance could be hindered. These circumstances and the product of these circumstances are not a representation of a teacher’s effectiveness, but more unfortunate and adverse situations that students unfortunately encounter.

Also, connecting statewide testing and teacher evaluations does not account for different learners and their unique backgrounds. For example, if students enter a classroom without basic skills for a variety of reasons, it sets unrealistic expectations that those students will perform adequately on statewide testing regardless of the educator. Once again, this is not a representation of a teacher’s ability or effectiveness, but the reality of each student’s unique journey as a learner. It is encouraging to know that Washington State has eliminated this correlation, which exemplifies an understanding of this misrepresentation in education.  This is reassuring as a future educator in this state.

Lastly, grades should  not be connected to a teacher’s evaluation. Hypothetically, if all students received an “A” for a course that does not represent an effective educator. It may even represent low standards. The most accurate approach to evaluating educators is consistent observation within the school. Also, administrators must be tuned-in to the learning community and listen to the voices of students.

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